Nothing announces the arrival autumn more loudly than the gorgeous gourds. Butternut squash is the sexiest among them and the sweetest.
When we were first falling in love, I made this dish for my future husband. It wasn’t quite in this form. I’d faithfully recreated recipe I’d recently discovered on Sprouted Kitchen — well, I modified the pesto so it was parmesan-free — but otherwise it was basically faithful to the recipe. I’m pretty sure that making this sealed the deal for us.
Every year since then, he always asks when butternut squash is coming back into season. This meal is one of his very favorites.
Since that first time, I’ve modified the recipe considerably, really making it my own. The result is a delicious, hearty, and healthy late-summer/deep autumn meal that reminds me of that first autumn of falling madly in love with a wonderful man and beginning an adventure that hasn’t stopped since then. Just like the recipe, our love has changed over time to shape the life we have created together. And truthfully, I love it and him even more now than I did then.
Butternut Squash with Shells and Pistachio Pesto
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)
2 cups Pasta Shells (I love Banza brand. Made out of chickpeas, so you get bonus protein!)
3.5-4 cups Butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (this should be an entire medium size butternut squash or 2 smallish ones)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbs sesame or olive oil
About 12 baby tomatoes, chopped in half
A few handfuls of Arugula or Lacinto Kale
2 cups of fresh herbs (I use basil, mint, and cilantro usually heavier on the cilantro and basil)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
2 small cloves of garlic
2 Tbs lemon juice
Good quality Olive Oil (I honestly don’t measure this. I add in enough that the blender can blend. if it’s not blending well, I add more. If you need a measurement, start with a 1/4 cup and go from there)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the butternut squash with the oil, smoked paprika, and salt. Place on a baking dish and put it in the oven.
Cook for 15 minutes or until the butternut squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
While the squash is cooking, make your pasta. Should take about 10 minutes. When it’s done, rinse with cool water and set aside.
In the meantime, while everything is cooking, make your pesto. First things first, you have to toast the coconut shreds and the pistachios. Toasted shredded coconut does a realy good impression of the texture of parmesan, which is why I use it. You only want it to be golden, not burned, so keep an eye on the pan. Once the coconut/pistachio is ready, combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. Mix thoroughly.
In the same bowl you prepped your squash in, add the arugula or kale. The arugula can be “as is” but if you’re using kale, massage it a bit in the oil remaining in the bowl so it’s less raw. Add the pasta into the bowl with the greens, along with the butternut squash. Then add in the pesto and stir it up really well, so the pesto completely saturates every shell.
Now, add in the tomatoes and if you’d like, some extra pistachios.
Eat with love.